I have fond memories of making coffee ice cream at a friend’s birthday party years ago. One day, I decided it was time to try this fun activity with my own kids.
Sure, you can buy ice cream from the store, but where’s the fun in that? It’s the same thing with an ice cream maker that takes up extra space in your cupboard anyway.
Or you can get the kids to help you make coffee can ice cream! Yes, it’s entirely possible and is it ever delicious!
You’ll need two coffee cans for this activity; one smaller than the other. I found a three pound and one pound coffee cans worked well. The Chock Full O’ Nuts brand at my wholesale club store was the perfect three pound size, while one pounders are easy to find at all the grocery stores. Isn’t coffee like stocking up on toilet paper; it’s a necessity you may as well have on hand.
One more note: the old fashioned coffee cans seem to be going out of style which is so very sad because they are terrific for crafting. I must caution you to look out for imposters! Feel for the ridges, otherwise your can may be a shiny cardboard fake and that won’t work for this project.
Next, you’ll need to decide what to stir into your coffee can ice cream. You can use extracts, fruits, candy, frozen bits of cheesecake, crushed cookies, etc. ; whatever floats your topping boat. We had some leftover strawberries so I chopped those up and added a dash of vanilla extract. I wish I had a real vanilla bean to crush up, but alas.
Whatever you chose to stir in, make sure you freeze it for at least a couple hours first. Warm toppings will make it difficult to achieve ice cream consistency with your coffee cans.
You’ll Need to make Coffee Can Ice Cream:
- 1 pint half and half
- 1/3 cup of granulated sugar
- Rock Salt or Ice Cream Salt
- toppings, your choice!
- duct tape
Start with your small coffee can and mix together the half and half with the sugar. Then add your toppings.
Put the lid back on and tape it tightly with the duct tape. This is important because you don’t want your half-way made ice cream to fly out!
Stick the smaller can in your bigger can, then nestle ice and salt layers around it. Follow with more tape. (Personally, I thought about my son and dog, shuddered, and taped it even more.)
Now for about 10 minutes, have you kids go to town. Roll it, toss it, shake it, play a gentle game of soccer, whatever they want.
It helps to set a timer, because ten minutes can seem like an eternity when you want ice cream.
At this point, take a peek to monitor progress. You may be done! But you might need to keep rolling and kicking.
You can see how our ice is melting here, so we added more:
If needed, add fresh ice and salt and roll some more. We actually jumped on the trampoline for a bit, and I shook it for the baby’s enjoyment for a while. Anything to keep it in action.
If you have older kids rather than ice cream hungry toddlers, have them look into the science of the melting and the rock salt. See if they can figure out why it works for melting sidewalks in the winter and making coffee can ice cream in the summer.
Once your coffee can ice cream is the right consistency, dig in!
You’ll want to eat it right away because it doesn’t store like regular store bought ice cream.
What do you think? With a taste test of the kiddos, my preggo self, my picky husband, and the dog, we loved this sweet coffee can ice cream treat! Now to work on my next flavor combo!Print
Coffee Can Ice Cream
- Prep Time: 20 mins
- Total Time: 20 mins
- Yield: 4 1x
- Category: Dessert
- 1 pint Half and Half
- 1/3 cup of sugar
- Rock Salt/Ice Cream Salt
- Toppings (chilled or frozen)
- 2 coffee cans – one large, one small enough to fit in the other
- duct tape
- In the smaller coffee can, mix your half and half with the sugar, followed by your desired toppings. Tape the lid on nice and tight.
- Stick the smaller can in your bigger can, and then nestle ice and salt layers around it. Follow with more tape.
- Set a timer for 10 minutes, then roll, toss, shake, or play a gentle game of soccer.
- Check for progress. If it’s done, dig in, but you might need to add more ice and rock salt and shake around for a little longer. Once your ice cream is the right consistency, enjoy it right away!
Thanks to Leslie for providing this guest post!
Leslie works in accounting by day, but in the evening it’s all about having fun outside with her family.
She lives on the eastern shore of Maryland on her husband’s family farm which they have
renamed The Puddle Jump Farm for their son, who has yet to see a puddle he doesn’t like!
Ellen Christian says
That sounds like fun. We have an ice cream maker that uses a similar method.
What a cool idea! I’ve never heard of coffee can ice cream before. Homemade iced cream is the best, though. Nothing beats that texture.
Tammilee Tips says
I have never made ice cream like this before!! What a fun way to make a great treat for after dinner on a hot day!
Amber Edwards says
Ok, I love how you made this ice cream making into a fun activity for the kids! When I was a kid my mom just put the ice cream into a zipped bag. And then put it into a bigger bag with the ice there. And I had to shake shake shake shake. lol
But I love that with it in the cans, you can just play Kick the can and then at the end you have a fun dessert! Brilliant!!
Brett Beyer says
Ohmigosh! Suddenly my dumpster diving for discarded coffee cans doesn’t seem so creepy anymore. Just kidding. It’s still a pretty creepy habit that I really should stop.
Otherwise, I love this idea. I’d love to get one out to let the kids kick it around!
We did something very similar to this in my preschool class when we talking about “rain or snow”. The kiddos all loved making it but did you know they make kids that don’t like ice cream? We used this crazy ball that my mom in law had picked up for cheap, but i wanted to do the coffee can thing…I wasn’t sure how often I would need to add more ice and retape… Thanks for re-inspiring me and giving me an excuse to keep hoarding my cans!
Does anyone know if it will work with paint cans? Or know where I can buy empty cans? I can’t find coffee cans anywhere these days lol.
That’s a good point, Megan! I can’t find any coffee cans now either. It looks like Lowes and Home Depot sell new, empty metal paint cans so yes, I think that would be a great alternative.
Can I use milk instead of half and half? Because I have a whole gallon I need to use.
Hi Dani. Yes you can but the consistency might be a little different. This site has a great explanation -https://www.myfearlesskitchen.com/which-milk-for-ice-cream/
Very useful guide to making a Ice-cream coffee for kids. I love this recipe. Thanks for share.
Bryan Da Silva says
Absolutely brilliant. As a former Cub Master, I did this recipe once with my boy scouts. The fun of kicking the can around led into a great ice cream session afterwards. Highly recommend this for a bunch of kids